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My south east London: Author Leo Zeilig
Updated 9:25am Wednesday 15th May 2013 in Leisure latest news
Academic and author Leo Zeilig, 40, has lived in south east London for most of his life.
He grew up in Shooter’s Hill and - despite living for a few years in Canada as a child and in Africa as an adult - has always returned and now lives in Blackheath.
Leo’s latest novel Eddie the Kid (published by Zero Books) is set in south east London and Chicago and tells the story of two generations of peace activists.
The lead character, like the author, spent his childhood in Plumstead and Welling.
News Shopper asked Leo to tell us about his favourite places in south east London:
“Today, for my writing I spend a lot of time recalling the places where I lived and grew-up.
“The lead character in my novel Eddie the Kid, like me, spent his childhood in Plumstead and Welling. No matter the distance we put between our homes and childhoods, there is a force that constantly draws them back to us. I couldn’t be a writer anywhere else.
“My favourite places of the capital are all in South East London:
1. “The view over London from lawn of my friend’s old house on Occupation Lane, at the top of Shooter’s Hill. From that lawn I dreamt of flight and escape. When we were ten, we made a two-seater plane - the size of a large family car – with wood stolen from garden fences and a propeller taken from an overhead ceiling fan.
"We planned to launch the plane from Eglinton Hill; we would then, if we made it off the ground, climb above the low-rise city in the distance before flying directly to Disney Land.
2. “Lewisham High Street comes in second. From the age of twelve I was allowed to travel on the 178 bus from Shooter’s Hill to Lewisham.
“The bus would transport me to the Promised Land, the High Street and the two-storey Wimpey’s. With money scavenged from my parents, I would eat the cheapest hamburger with my friend Ben, propped up, like kings, on the plastic furniture.
“As I grew older I began to love Lewisham as the most cosmopolitan street in the world and the site of great demonstrations – against the racist National Front in 1977, and the march this year to save the A&E at Lewisham Hospital.
3. “My third spot is Alacosta Café on Trafalgar Road, which serves the best soya latte in London. Much of Eddie the Kid was plotted and written in this East Greenwich cafe. Trafalgar Road is a contradiction, with the rich and poor living cheek by jowl.
“London’s most expensive houses are minutes from a road that stretches through poor estates and neighbourhoods in Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich. The road is a wonderful, noisy muddle of life – peopled by the world.
“Thirty years on I still walk around Greenwich Park with Ben; remembering the hollowed tree we would play in before it was pulled down by the 1987 storm. We would crawl under the fence that circled the tree and pretend, hidden in the hollow, that we’d run away. We never got far; instead we would tire easily and return home at the end of the day.”
Leo's novel Eddie the Kid is published by Zero Books (£10.99)
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